Lawmakers on the legislature’s Labor Committee recently held a public hearing in New Britain on the prevailing wage that drew municipal leaders and advocates on both sides of the issue.

The prevailing wage is what must be paid to workers involved in public works renovation and remodeling projects of $100,000 or more, or new construction projects of $400,000 or more. 

Many businesses and municipalities say that the prevailing wage—an above-market rate—makes government projects more expensive by requiring non-union contractors to pay union wages to their employees.

It also, they say, discourages non-union companies from doing business with the state or municipalities. Raising the prevailing wage threshold to $1 million, they contend, would help municipalities avoid paying pay more than necessary for projects and free up funds for additional projects.   

Small businesses also note that the paperwork required to bid on a public works projects is often too much for small businesses to handle, which means that larger, out-of-state contractors often end up with the winning bid. 

Supporters of the prevailing wage argue that it puts all workers on the same wage playing field, making it more likely that local companies will win bids and the wages will be reinvested in the local economy.     

 At this time, the Labor Committee has yet to announce its next steps on the issue.

For more information, contact Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 or eric.gjede@cbia.com.